BI and data integration professionals face a multitude of overlapping data preparation options

Boris Evelson

Ah, the good old days. The world used to be simple. ETL vendors provided data integration functionality, DBMS vendors data warehouse platforms and BI vendors concentrated on reporting, analysis and data visualization. And they all lived happily ever after without stepping on each others’ toes and benefiting from lucrative partnerships. Alas, the modern world of BI and data integration is infinitely more complex with multiple, often overlapping offerings from data integration and BI vendors. I see the following three major segments in the market of preparing data for BI:

  1. Fully functional and highly scalable ETL platforms that are used for integrating analytical data as well as moving, synchronizing and replicating operational, transactional data. This is still the realm of tech professionals who use ETL products from Informatica, AbInitio, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft and others.
  2. An emerging market of data preparation technologies that specialize mostly in integrating data for BI use cases and mostly run by business users. Notable vendors in the space include Alteryx, Paxata, Trifecta, Datawatch, Birst, and a few others.
  3. Data preparation features built right into BI platforms. Most leading BI vendors today provide such capabilities to a varying degree.
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The Breathtaking Future of Software Development -- It's Already Here!

Michael Facemire

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" -- William Gibson

I recently drove a Tesla for the first time. As a kid that grew up in a car dealership (my father and grandfather both owned one) I grew up with a love of cars, speed, and pushing limits. Driving that Tesla changed everything; as a developer I'm starting to feel a experience a similar set of feelings. Developers love change -- and technology provides a constant stream of bright shiny objects for us to chase. Fortunately we're being blessed by many of these objects to chase lately -- to the point that the current velocity of change _around everything we do_ is starting to take my breath away! I equate it to driving a Tesla at the edge of ludicrous mode; incredibly exciting with the knowledge that one false step means sure peril. The areas that are currently exciting me are:
 
The Web plumbing is changing. Earlier this year the Internet Archive put out a call to help building the new distributed web. They point to a number of challenges around the current web -- it's fragile, not reliable, not private, and needs a way to keep track of changes over time. Fortunately some early options are appearing about that I'm digging into, particularly Ethereum, IPFS, Blockchain, and HTTP/2. Each of these brings significant change to how we build, deploy, and scale applications.
 
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The Predictive Modeling Process Using Machine Learning

Mike Gualtieri

Predictive analytics uses statistical and machine learning algorithms to find aptterns in data that might predict similar outcomes in the future. Check out this less than 3 minute, fun and fruity video to understand the six steps of predictive modeling.  For tools that use machine learning to build predictive models, Forrester clients can read The Forrester Wave: Big Data Predictive Analytics Solutions, Q2 2015 and A Machine Learning Primer For BT Professionals.

The Tug Of War Over Front-End Development Ownership

Dominique Whittaker

Front-end developers are getting the short end of the stick: they're either considered not technical enough to be a developer or too technical to be considered a designer/engineer. This conflict resonates further into the organization and stakeholders aren't in agreement on where front-end developers should sit---with the BT organization or within the business. Both sides make compelling arguments as to why front-end devs should sit within their respective parts of the organization. Our recent developer survey tells us that 47% of developers sit within a single centralized BT organization.

 

The main reasons BT organization argues three reasons front-end developers should sit within BT:

  • To make sure that development standards are consistent.
  • It ensures that they work in sync with the back-end team.
  • Front-end devs work with code and BT should have ownership of anything related to code.

On the other hand, marketing argues that front-end developers (also referred to as designers/web developers) are better suited for marketing since:

  • They don't really code, mainly working in HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
  • Front-end devs can create rapid prototypes for customers to see their ideas conceptualized, but it’s not intended to be production-ready at all.  
  • BT organization moves too slowly and is unable to deliver the changes needed to enhance the customer journey at the speed it requires.
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Improving Mobile App Quality Testing

John Wargo

In 2014, Michael Facemire and Rowan Curran published a report entitled A Benchmark To Drive Mobile Test Quality. The report covered how organizations had to adjust mobile app testing in a world with an overabundance of mobile devices and applications in constant enhancement mode (very frequent updates). As the new guy, I was asked to do an update to the report, so I reviewed what already existed and proceeded to do some research to see what had changed in the market since the original report was published. Well, my update to the report is called Improving Mobile App Quality Testing and it was just published today.

Later this month, I will be completing reports on HTTP/2 as well as an update to Building High-Performance Mobile Experiences, a report by Jeffrey Hammond and Michael Facemire. 

Find Premium Digital Development Talent With The 3 C's

Anjali Yakkundi

This a guest post by Danielle Geoffroy, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.

You have a people and organization problem. In our 2015 survey, we asked what the biggest barriers to success are when it comes to delivering customer-facing mobile and web experiences. The answer didn’t surprise us – the top three challenges were all talent-related. Digital experience delivery is the new black, and in order to incorporate it into your strategy and brand, you need to hire a new breed of development and delivery talent: technologists that are creative, understand business goals, and are up to date on new technology and languages (think WCM, not just ERP, and Javascript, not just Python).

In order to hire this premium talent, you must think like the talent. These designers, developers, creators didn’t grow up in the suit and tie corporate world, and will need competitive salaries and benefits plus much more: meaningful, fast-paced work cultures that foster development.

In order hire this talent that has new priorities, we identified three C’s to build your perfect match digital experience team:

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The Fragmenting SFA Ecosystem

Kate Leggett

Sales organizations, for the last couple of decades, have used sales automation (SFA) to manage account and contact data, sales pipelines, territories and more – all inside-out capabilities that help optimize their productivity, The problem is that today, customers control the conversation that they have with companies. Customers increasingly demand effortless sales interactions that increasingly trend toward self-service. They demand interactions tailored to their particular industry, pain point, and profile. They want streamlined interactions that value their time, such as a simple, efficient quote-to-order process or a contract renewal process.

Today sales organizations struggle to provide sales experiences in-line with customer expectations. They cant:

  • Support buyers on their terms. Buyers increasingly leverage mobile touchpoints, self-service, and digital channels to interact with companies which sales organizations cannot support.
  • Get sales representatives to follow consistent processes. Sales managers have sales reps of different calibers, and they must up-level a team’s performance. Also, without a consistent sales process that clearly articulates conditions for the different stages, managers can’t accurately qualify their pipeline. This affects forecasts, valuation, and profitability.
  • Personalize conversations with stakeholders. Sales reps don’t have near real-time information about their prospect’s company or industry or about a particular stakeholder to make conversations more relevant. They may not understand relationships between stakeholders that are involved in a purchase. They often lack insight about the effectiveness of sales collateral for different stages of the sales journey.
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The New Customer Service Mandate - It’s No Longer Socially Acceptable To Not Be Social

Ian Jacobs

This a guest post by Danielle Geoffroy, a Research Associate on the Application Development & Delivery (AD&D) team.

Customer service teams are facing a dilemma that may bring back high school nostalgia – if you want to be one of the cool kids, you need to be social. But simply being present in the social scene doesn’t automatically make you hip to the digital customer. You need to talk the talk and have the latest gadgets.

In our recent report, we discuss the new reality of social customer service, and outline tools you should adopt for social workforce optimization.  Companies have all felt social flip the table – it affects their core business model because newly empowered customers have a giant bullhorn to make their feelings known. As a result, companies must incorporate social into all realms of their business, especially customer service teams.

Customers turning to social channels for service support have high expectations (I know I do). Those expectations mean you’ll need to:

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Make Your BI Environment More Agile With BI on Hadoop

Boris Evelson
In the past three decades, management information systems, data integration, data warehouses (DWs), BI, and other relevant technologies and processes only scratched the surface of turning data into useful information and actionable insights:
  • Organizations leverage less than half of their structured data for insights. The latest Forrester data and analytics survey finds that organizations use on average only 40% of their structured data for strategic decision-making. 
  • Unstructured data remains largely untapped. Organizations are even less mature in their use of unstructured data. They tap only about a third of their unstructured data sources (28% of semistructured and 31% of unstructured) for strategic decision-making. And these percentages don’t include more recent components of a 360-degree view of the customer, such as voice of the customer (VoC), social media, and the Internet of Things. 
  • BI architectures continue to become more complex. The intricacies of earlier-generation and many current business intelligence (BI) architectural stacks, which usually require the integration of dozens of components from different vendors, are just one reason it takes so long and costs so much to deliver a single version of the truth with a seamlessly integrated, centralized enterprise BI environment.
  • Existing BI architectures are not flexible enough. Most organizations take too long to get to the ultimate goal of a centralized BI environment, and by the time they think they are done, there are new data sources, new regulations, and new customer needs, which all require more changes to the BI environment.
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DAM Faces An Overcast Future Without Cloud

Anjali Yakkundi

Forrester recently published a report on moving digital experience platforms into the cloud. This effort, led by my colleagues Ted Schadler and Mark Grannan, highlights an important point: digital experience platforms have been slow to embrace cloud delivery and only now, very slowly, are they embracing cloud alternatives. Why now? Forrester data shows us that clients demand cloud delivery so they can speed up implementation and deployment times, support mobile and remote users, lower overall costs, and replace upfront capital spending with monthly operating cost expenses. 

While digital experience platforms are typically anchored by core technologies like web content management, eCommerce, and/or campaign management, digital asset management is a core complementary piece of these platforms. DAM supports these solutions by managing omnichannel brand and rich media content. But compared to these other digital experience platform components, DAM is among the slowest to embrace cloud delivery. Many of the most prominent DAM vendors today have been very slow to adopt cloud delivery, and as such, the market is ripe for a cloud disrupter to change the pace of the market. 

So what’s happening in the market today? In short, some vendors show hints of promise of doing what Salesforce has done to the CRM market, but no one vendor has stepped to the plate yet:

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